According to the Digital Skills Indicator (DESI 2017) 17% of the EU population have no digital skills and 43% lack basic digital skills. While over 219 million EU households (99.9%) have access to at least one form of fixed or mobile broadband technology (Broadband Coverage in Europe Report 2017), the absence of digital skills is the prime factor limiting household digital connection up-take and citizen digital services usage for e-government/public administration, employment and education.
Ireland ranks 8th among the 28 EU Member States in the 2017 Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI). While Ireland is performing well and belongs to the high performance cluster of EU countries (Denmark, Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, Luxembourg and Estonia), more than half of the Irish population lack basic digital skills and the majority of these are lower skilled people located in relative remoteness. Indeed, across the EU there is significant digital uptake. For example, in 2017, 86% of internet users in the UK shopped online compared to only 23% in Romania.
The Department of Adult & Community Education in Maynooth University is one of 8 partners from 6 European Countries (Belgium, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Spain), working together to promote the uptake of digital skills by lower skilled adults through the ERASMUS+ DELSA project – Digital Empowerment for Upskilling Adults http://www.digitaldelsa.eu/project.php. The project will prepare free and open training modules will assist adults digitally upskill. The online upskilling modules were identified based on scoping reports prepared by each project partner during in early 2019.
In Ireland the Department of Adult & Community Education (https://www.maynoothuniversity.ie/adult-and-community-education) is working with Irish Rural Link (DELSA Project lead partner https://www.irishrurallink.ie/getting-citizens-online/) and Longford Womens Link (http://www.lwl.ie/services/education-training/) engaging with local communities of learners and testing newly prepared digital upskilling materials.